Posted on June 20, 2011

Qatar Railways Company (RAIL) will offer the first tender for its QR 130 billion railway and metro system project before the end of 2011, the company Deputy Chairman HE Sheikh Saoud Bin Nasser Bin Jassim Al-Thani said. Addressing a press conference on Monday to announce the GCC Transport and Railways Conference due to be held under the Patronage of HE the Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jabor Al Thani, on 17 - 19 October 2011 in Doha, Qatar, RAIL Vice Chairman said the event will be coinciding with the Qatar International Exhibition for Transport and Logistics (TRANS4), organized by Al-Baida Group at the Doha Exhibition Center, Qatar.

Talking about the event and its importance for the region, HE Sheikh Saoud Bin Nasser Bin Jassem Al-Thani, said "The most important objective of the conference is to examine the coordination prospects between the Gulf countries with regard to various national plans aiming at developing railways networks, land linkage systems and transportation integration in the region and the potential impact of these investment plans on the regional economy, and on the trade flow between the Gulf countries themselves and with other countries throughout the world."

"The Gulf countries are embracing one of the largest railways network and land linkage development programs in the world. Due to the strategic importance of this sector, it is all natural that the stakeholders from the region meet global experts, policy makers and industry leaders with a view of assessing these significant investment plans and their consistency with not only the short term, but also the long term needs of the countries to expand this industry and achieve regional economic integration," he added.

The GCC have now entered a new and vital phase in the completion of the basic infrastructure of economic and commercial integration in the region. In conjunction with monetary union and the integrated electricity grid, plans for comprehensive GCC road and railroads will support the region’s economic, monetary and customs union and boost the drive towards the establishment of a GCC common market similar to what was achieved in Europe, RAIL Vice-Chairman explained.

The final result of all these efforts will be the emergence of the GCC countries as a regional economic power with a combined GDP of around 2 trillion dollars and a total population of around 53 million in the year 2020. Accordingly, it is expected that the GCC region and the Middle East generally will, in the coming five years, become the largest site for rail projects in the world and their integration with transport and communication sectors to create a complete and efficient transport system, that can accelerate economic and social development in the GGC countries and the wider Middle East.

The GCC region is thus expected a major pole of interest for international engineering and contracting companies, as well as local, regional and foreign companies active in the transport and communication sectors. Qatar's railway projects involve three large-scale rail projects - a metro system for the capital Doha, a nationwide over-ground network and plans to link cargo train tracks to other Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) members. Work is to be completed in various phases between 2010 and 2026. The underground network in Doha will cover 354 km at speeds of 80-160 km/h. The ground rail project will cover 345 km and cargo trains are expected to be fully linked to other GCC countries by 2017/2018.

The GCC Transport and Railways Conference will bring together high level participation from policy makers, regulators, operators, manufacturers, contractors, consultants and other players in the transport and railway industry led by GCC ministers of transport, finance and public works in addition to representatives of regional and international organizations, major engineering companies, regional and international banks and financial institutions, and a wide spectrum of stakeholders. The conference will discuss and deal with many topics related to the development of the transportation, communication and railway industry in the GCC countries, with a particular focus on GCC road and railway plans and programs; developments and challenges in the implementation of these plans and projects and the huge investment opportunities that they will create; opportunities for regional and international engineering and contracting companies; the expected impact of transport and rail projects on regional trade flows, and operational and organizational issues.

The event will also offer excellent opportunity for business networking and direct contacts with relevant government bodies and officials.